MDCOB Students Attend NABA National Conference
Chapter President Yemi Brown Offers Practical Reasons to Join Student Organizations
By Laura Wagner
Beyond soft skills like leadership, communication, and confidence, there’s a practical reason for joining a student organization: It can help you get a job. UHD alum and current MBA candidate Yemi Brown (Accounting, ’23) spoke with us about this year’s NABA conference and the tangible benefits of joining student organizations.
Originally a transfer student from Houston Community College, Yemi Brown didn’t always see the value in student organizations.
Brown came to UHD after meeting former UHD Accounting professor Dr. Alicia Yancy at a Houston Community College event. “I followed her here,” said Brown. Yancy was the advisor for the UHD Chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) and suggested Brown attend a meeting. “I initially went to just check it out with no commitment,” Brown remembered. She did a lot more than just check it out—she currently serves as the 2022-2023 UHD Chapter President.
“I found my people,” Brown said simply. “When you affiliate yourself with a student organization, you meet people who share your areas of interest, and you’re exposed to people who have been involved in those areas longer than you,” she continued. “You begin to realize how much you don’t know.”
At first, that included career ideas as well as tips on which professors might be best suited for her personality. From there, it included access to industry professionals and networking opportunities.
“UHD students often think they don’t need that kind of ‘soft’ support,” Brown noted. She herself had started out as an online-only student and didn’t attend her first in-person class until COVID was well underway. “Gators have a lot going on outside of campus. But organizations bring in alums and CFOs and other professionals to speak, and those people inspire your journey in ways you can’t imagine.”
Brown, who is now pursuing her MBA in International Business at the Marilyn Davies College of Business (MDCOB), first attended NABA’s Annual National Convention & Expo in 2022. In June 2023, she led seven MDCOB students to the annual convention in New Orleans. That was less than half the number who attended in 2022, but that’s part of the NABA success story, according to Brown: “Many of the attendees from last year got jobs or internships after attending—they didn’t need to go back!”
That success in placing students with companies rests in part with a platform NABA offers called Matchplicity. Attendees can upload their résumés in advance, identify their top companies, and connect with those and other firms at the conference.
UHD’s 2023 attendees included one senior, two grad students, and four recent graduates, none of whom had been to NABA before.
“It’s incredibly overwhelming that first time you go,” said Brown. “We prepare students by explaining what clothing and supplies to bring, how to pack to reduce wrinkles, practical things you wouldn’t know if you don’t travel.” Before the conference, they put attendees through mock round-robin interview sessions and point them to the resources like the MDCOB Career Center.
“We make sure they’re prepared to put their best foot forward,” said Brown. “And we advise them to indicate their top two areas of interest in Matchplicity, such as tax or compliance, so that recruiters know where they want to be placed.”
The 2023 conference experience was a success—many of the UHD attendees had interviews there and follow-up interviews afterward. They’re now waiting to hear results. “Students are so often struggling to get in front of the right people in firms,” Brown observed. “At NABA, you’re beating off recruiters with a stick. It’s a real boost to students’ confidence to have Fortune 500 companies trying to get their attention.”
Brown is a poster child for the organization, having earned two scholarships and a prestigious internship with Andersen Consulting through NABA. She starts a full-time role with another firm this month.
Because she already had a job lined up, Brown said attending NABA this year was a chance to be a cheerleader for other students and for UHD, and to reconnect with recruiters and partners she met previously.
“NABA is a great place to start for students of all races and all business majors,” she said. “You don’t have to be Black or be an Accounting major!” Marketing, International Business, even Management Information Systems—any business degree is welcome in the organization and at the conference.
“NABA has started moving to something they call One NABA—which means the world of accounting is not just for Accounting majors,” Brown explained. “A lot of companies want duality—they want to know you can pivot within the company—and they need IT people and other accounting-adjacent professionals, not just accountants.”
Tips From Yemi on Student Orgs
When asked her top three tips for UHD students regarding student organizations, Brown offered these:
- Stop procrastinating—join. “Get a connection somewhere, then go to an event or two, and start asking questions.” Not sure which organization is right for you? “Ask your favorite professor,” Brown advised. “And classmates. Or just try one out. You don’t have to commit right away.”
- Pursue an internship. “Doesn’t matter where you are in life, internships are absolutely crucial for your development career-wise. They help you figure out what you’re getting into—and what you might not want to get into,” Brown said. “Student organizations are a great place to start your networking for internships.”
- Don’t let (lack of) money be the deciding factor. Whether it’s chapter dues or conference attendance and travel fees, Brown said you just need to ask for support. “The head of your organization’s chapter and your dean’s office want to see your commitment to yourself, your buy-in to you. If you want this for your future, talk to them. Money should never be an obstacle.”
For more information on NABA, visit UHD’s Student Chapter of NABA webpage, email Chapter leaders, or follow UHD NABA online at one of the links below. For more information on student organizations, contact your Student Government Association representatives.
UHD NABA Online:
- GroupMe: https://groupme.com/join_group/54563836/6b8wcLxU
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/uhd-naba/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/uhdnaba/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uhd.naba
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/UHDNABA